An Email Interview with Hockey Researcher Paul Patskou

Sometimes to understand the present and maybe even the future, you have to look back at the past.

Someone in hockey that understands that better than anyone is Paul Patskou. Paul is a hockey researcher and archivist that has contributed to many hockey books, videos, documentaries, and more.

He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, how he became a hockey researcher/archivist, what it is like to contribute to books and documentaries, and he also tells us about a hockey show he hosts online called “Hockey Time Machine.” I hope you enjoy it!

PH: Growing up, how did you get into hockey?  
PP: My first memory was watching the Toronto Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada with my dad. The games came on at 9 pm., which was midway through the second period, so there was always intrigue. That was the season (1958-59) that the Leafs were in last place all year and made the playoffs on the last night of the season. 

It was magical to a 7-year-old. I do not remember watching hockey before that, but I do know that I received a Maple Leafs jersey for Christmas a few years earlier. I was hooked on the Leafs and hockey.  

It is a bittersweet memory as I lost my dad two months after the playoffs ended.

PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team (s)/player (s)? How about now?
PP: It was the Leafs because it was my hometown team and my dad was a Leaf fan and I always wore the Leaf jersey. Among my favourite players were Frank Mahovlich and Dick Duff and others. I never dreamed that I would be friends with all those players I watched on HNIC. 

I do not really have a favorite now, as it is a different game. All the players skate the same, look the same, and wear helmets. You identify a player in the past by the way they played the game and their appearance.

PH: At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to be involved in and work in hockey?
PP: Probably in public school, as sometimes I used hockey stats in the projects I was assigned.

PH: How did you become such an astute hockey researcher?
PP: I bought every Hockey News and hockey magazine and read everything I could. There was no internet or sports stations back then. There was only half a hockey game one night a week. 

On Monday morning, school kids talked about the Saturday night game. I wanted to be the ‘expert’. I majored in history in university so researching was natural to me.

PH: You have done and contributed research to a lot of different hockey books. What were some of your favorites that you contributed to?
PP: So many to choose from. I have been involved with around 50 hockey books – researching for other authors, interviewing, writing, editing, photos, etc. I think the books on the Leafs would be most important – ‘Diary of a Dynasty’ and ‘100 Things a Leafs Fan Should Know’. And, of course, ‘When Canada Shut Down’ about the 1972 Summit Series.

PH: Why do you think hockey research is important?
PP: It is always important to remember the past – what events led to the present. One of the goals in hockey research is to discover new things and interpretations and to correct history, which I do with the video I have.

PH: You have an incredible archive of hockey footage. How did you gather it all?
PP: I wanted to relive the experience of watching the Leafs in that 1958-59 season, so I contacted CBC and other outlets. The answer was the same – nothing was available. 

I got a break when I tried the National Archives in Ottawa. The 16mm Kinescopes were housed there and there was actually a project happening to catalogue the games. 

So, I now knew what existed. That knowledge gave me a huge advantage, and then I started working on video projects for Molstar, CBC, Leafs TV, the NHL, and others. 

No one else was doing what I was in terms of finding old video and creating databases. Because I was involved in video projects with these organizations, I had some access to the rare footage.

PH: A few years ago, you started a show on YouTube called “Hockey Time Machine.” What gave you the idea to start this show?
PP: Since the 1980’s or even before that, there was a monthly Alumni Lunch that was at first players only, but now involves scouts, media, authors – anyone who was involved in the game. When COVID happened, we could no longer meet for lunch and we needed a way to temporarily (we thought) to keep everyone together.

 Zoom was new to us in April 2020, but we used it to start a weekly session to talk hockey. As we added more people to the Zoom, we realized that we could use our contacts in the hockey world to expand the talks to include others.  

When we ran out of capacity on Zoom, we switched to a different format on Streamyard and called it ‘Hockey Time Machine.’ We wanted to bring people back in time to revisit the great events of the past.  

We still have the Zoom discussions, and that runs after the Hockey Time Machine shows.

PH: How are you able to get such great guests for “Hockey Time Machine”?
PP: Well, we were already connected because of the Alumni lunches, and I knew a lot of people in the hockey world because of my interaction with the hockey organizations. The New York Times wrote a story about us, and word spread. 

What was so satisfying was the requests by people like Scotty Bowman, Yvan Cournoyer, and others asking to be involved. We were lucky to have three professional hosts: Glenn Dreyfuss, Kevin Shea, and Steve Paikin. We used rare videos and chose topics that had not been covered. We wanted to be different, and we were.

PH: What are you trying to bring viewers with the “Hockey Time Machine”?  
PP: We want to present to viewers the history of the game. Sometimes, a different version and to hear it from the people who actually experienced it. Adding video to the stories enhanced the show.

PH: Is there anything else that you would like to share with hockey fans?  
PP: Just tune in on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm ET or watch the episodes on our YouTube channel!

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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